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The Knight Kadosh is a Freemasonic degree or ceremony of initiation performed by certain branches of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (or simply, "Scottish Rite"). It is the Thirtieth Degree of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite for the United States of America, and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, does not confer a degree entitled "Knight Kadosh." Instead its thirtieth degree is entitled "Grand Inspector."
The term "Kadosh" is derived from the Hebrew word "קדוש", which means holy or consecrated. "Kadosh" and "Knight Kadosh" is often abbreviated in masonic documents as "K--H.'." and "K.'.K.'.D.'.H".
The earliest recorded portrayal of the "Knight Kadosh" degree can be linked to the Council of Emperors of the East and West in 1758. This council united several Masonic degrees being conducted in eighteenth-century Paris, France. The "Knight Kadosh," or originally "Illustrious and Grand Commander of the White and Black Eagle, Grand Elect Kadosh," was part of a full complement of twenty-five degrees or grades governed by this council. The "Knight Kadosh" was the twenty-fourth degree of this complement.
In 1801, the first and oldest Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite was founded in Charleston, South Carolina. This body adopted many of the degrees of the Council of Emperors of the East and West, including that of "Knight Kadosh." The "Knight Kadosh" degree was adopted as the thirtieth degree and was simply titled "Knight Kadosh." The degree received a substantial re-write in the 1850s when Albert Pike was Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. It was further revised in 2000.
A different form of the Knight Kadosh degree, using a ritual not authored by Pike, was for many years performed in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, headquartered at Lexington, Massachusetts. However, that body no longer performs the degree.
Lesson of the Degree
Like all Masonic Degrees, the Knight Kadosh Degree attempts to teach the initiates a series of moral lessons by the use of allegory and symbolism. The official description of the lesson portrayed in Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite for the United States of America's version of the Knight Kadosh Degree is as follows
- "The lesson of this degree is to be true to ourselves, to stand for what is right and just in our lives today. To believe in God, country and ourselves."
The Knight Kadosh degree is occasionally accused of being anti-Catholic. The 1918 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia stated that, in the ceremony in use in the Southern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States, purported to have been written by Albert Pike, the Papal tiara is trampled during the initiation. This allegation does not appear in any subsequent editions of the Catholic Encyclopedia, although it was repeated by Father William Saunders in the Arlington Catholic Herald in 1996.
Neither the Catholic Encyclopedia's nor Father Saunders' account agrees with Pike's earliest version of the ritual, which includes neither trampling or stabbing a skull and no mention of papal tiaras at all. However, this earliest Pike revision of the Scottish Rite degree rituals, publicly available as "The Magnum Opus or Great Work," was not adopted by the Rite's Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States and thus was never practiced in that jurisdiction or any other Scottish Rite jurisdiction recognized by it. Whether these elements are included in the current official version of the ritual or in earlier official versions is not disclosed to non-members.
Pike's book Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry does mention hostility to the papal tiara by the historical Knights Templar when discussing the Kadosh degree; however, this is Pike's commentary on the degree and is not part of the degree itself.
- Freemasons for Dummies, Christopher Hodapp, ISBN 0-7645-9796-5, Hungry Minds Inc, U.S., 2005. p. 225
- , accessed Aug 3, 2006
- Freemasons for Dummies, Christopher Hodapp, ISBN 0-7645-9796-5, Hungry Minds Inc, U.S., 2005. p. 227
- An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey, The Masonic History Company, New York, 1917. Vol. 1, p. 378
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-27. Retrieved 2006-08-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), accessed Aug 3, 2006
- A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, A.E. Waite, ISBN 0-517-19148-2, University Books, New York, 1970. Vol. 1, p. xx
- A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, A.E. Waite, ISBN 0-517-19148-2, University Books, New York, 1970. Vol. 1, p. 254
- An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey, The Masonic History Company, New York, 1917. Vol. 1, p. 379
- A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, A.E. Waite, ISBN 0-517-19148-2, University Books, New York, 1970. Vol. 1, p. 432
- A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, A.E. Waite, ISBN 0-517-19148-2, University Books, New York, 1970. Vol. 2, p. 412
- The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, Arturo de Hoyos, ISBN 0-9708749-2-8, The Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, First Edition 2007, pg.79-86.
- Freemasons for Dummies, Christopher Hodapp, ISBN 0-7645-9796-5, Hungry Minds Inc, U.S., 2005. pp. 226-227
- "30th degree - Knight of Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle: The lesson of this degree is to be true to ourselves, to stand for what is right and just in our lives today. To believe in God, country and ourselves. There is no apron, but the jewel is a gold Teutonic cross, enameled in red, with the letters J.'.B.'.M.'. on the obverse, and a skull transpierced by a poinard on the reverse." Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction from freemasoninformation.com
- "The Kadosh (thirtieth degree), trampling on the papal tiara and the royal crown, is destined to wreak a just vengeance on these "high criminals" for the murder of Molay  and "as the apostle of truth and the rights of man"  to deliver mankind "from the bondage of Despotism and the thraldom of spiritual Tyranny"." From the article Masonry (Freemasonry) in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
- New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967 ed, Volume 6, pp 132–139, McGraw-Hill, New York. The most recent edition (2002) does not contain any article on Freemasonry.
- "When one reaches the 30th degree in the masonic hierarchy, called the Kadosh, the person crushes with his foot the papal tiara and the royal crown, and swears to free mankind 'from the bondage of despotism and the thraldom of spiritual tyranny.' "Catholics and the Freemason 'Religion'" by Father William Saunders, The Arlington Catholic Herald, May 9, 1996, hosted by the Eternal Word Television Network.
- Pike, Albert; The Magnum Opus or Great Work; Kessinger Publishing Co.; ISBN 1-56459-245-6
- "Thus the Order of Knights of the Temple was at its very origin devoted to the cause of opposition to the tiara of Rome"; Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, XXX KNIGHT KADOSH